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5 Horror Scripts to Download & Take Your Horror Writing to the Next Level

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by Script Reader Pro in Best Movie Scripts to Read
February 2, 2017 26 comments
Horror Scripts

5 Horror Scripts to Download and Take Your Horror Writing to the Next Level

Below you’ll find five classic horror scripts that every screenwriter who wants to write horror should read and study.

We’re massive proponents of finding the best screenplays to read, downloading and studying them in order to improve your writing craft.

So, if you’re a budding horror writer (or aspiring screenwriter of any genre) download these five horror scripts and get reading.

Best Horror Scripts #1: Scream

The set ups in horror scripts generally go either one of two ways:

 A slow-burn opening that draws the reader into the lives of its characters, or…

 A shocking first scene that immediately hooks the reader in and sets the tone.

The writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, opted for the latter in what has now become one of the most iconic opening scenes in horror movie history.

While very tongue-in-cheek, and much satirized over the years, you can probably still remember the impact of seeing this scene for the first time.

If you decide to go for a gore-fest opening intending to grab the reader’s attention like this, there’s probably no better place to start than studying this scene from Scream.

Here’s the moment when the scene takes a major turning point as the caller loses it, showing Drew his true nature:

Horror scripts

Break down this scene structurally to see how Williamson escalates the tension—progressing from a bored young woman innocently flirting with a stranger on the phone, to running for her life.

When writing a scene, remember that the “big” ones in horror scripts like this, usually change in their emotional charge from positive to negative as in this case, or vice versa.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Scripts #2: It Follows

This is a remarkably polished and inventive horror screenplay from David Robert Mitchell and was only his second feature after the drama, The Myth of the American Sleepover.

When writing horror scripts, one of the most important things to do early on is establish tone. Let’s take a look at the opening lines in It Follows:

Horror scripts

Not only is the tone established right away, but we’re thrown into a situation and a character in action—a girl trying to escape something unseen on a suburban street at night. With all these factors, we’re immediately hooked.

Avoid static openings—and script dialogue in which we merely see characters sitting around shooting the breeze—by connecting with our primal fears like how Mitchell does here. 

Put us in the characters’ shoes right from the get-go and make them active in every horror script you write.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Scripts #3: The Ring

It’s also important when writing horror screenplays that your writing style has the chops to elicit a fear response in the reader.

For example, inevitably you’re going to want to have a character creep down a hallway.  By reading horror scripts like The Ring (written by Ehren Kruger and the great Scott Frank) you’ll absorb exactly how to do it, rather than kinda-sorta bumbling along.

In this scene, read how Kruger and Frank show Rachel wake up with an uneasy feeling about her son:

Horror scripts

Note the judicious use of ALL CAPS, ellipses, em dashes and the mini-slug line, “AND FIND AIDEN AT THE TV”

This is great writing, but the best part about it is that you can incorporate all or some of these techniques into your own horror screenplays to make them stand out from the pack.

Best Screenplays To Read

HORROR SCRIPTS

Best Horror Scripts #4: The Shining

This classic horror script from Stanley Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson is a shooting script, so contains a few formatting idiosyncrasies.

It’s not a movie script format generally recommended for aspiring screenwriters, but the screenplay is just too good to overlook (sorry, we couldn’t resist) for any writer intending to master how to write a horror script.

Here’s an excerpt from the famous scene in which Wendy retreats up the staircase swinging a baseball bat at her increasingly deranged husband, Jack:

Horror scripts

It’s also worth reading this horror script and noting how the emphasis is more on Danny and his imaginary friend than Jack and his slow descent into evil as seen in the finished movie.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Scripts #5: Annabelle

Horror screenplays are, of course, not all about gore and shocks. You need to know how to write the quieter moments too, such as this great scene from the first Conjuring spin-off: Annabelle.

Horror scripts

The script was written by Gary Dauberman and it signaled his arrival as a sought-after Hollywood writer after a couple of schlocky B-movies.

He favors a Walter Hill (The Getaway, Alien) minimalist writing style, with sentences either broken up within the paragraph, or hugging the left margin, almost like bullet points.

It’s a unique style and isn’t for everyone, so read the script and make up your own mind. There’s plenty to admire in there.

Best Screenplays To Read

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What are your favorite horror scripts? How much have you learnt from reading horror screenplays and breaking them down? Let us know in the comments section below.

Don’t forget if you’ve got a horror script you’d like us to review, check out our script coverage services.

Best Screenplays To Read

26 Comments
  1. Hoan Lee says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the scripts. Don’t ever think that we can see these script online, but now I can study them on my laptop.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Hoan!

  2. Satyam says:

    Really a great post. Worth reading. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Satyam!

  3. Siddhaarth Bhardwaj says:

    Don’t know how much you helped me… Many – Many thanks to you…

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome!

  4. Great choices. I’ve read these screenplays. I write with the same style a Walter Hill, too. I have always written like that, even when I was a kid in the 80s honing my craft as a writer long before the public had total access to screenplays like we do today.

    I’ve published 3 books of horror fiction and my readers love that style of writing because it’s quick to read and my choppy, minimalist style makes the horror feel more visceral.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Very true – good luck with the writing, Clive.

  5. Lewis says:

    Thanks guys!

  6. Leoma says:

    Thanks, this website is really useful to us writers.

  7. Daniel victory says:

    I’m really glad to come across your post. Thanks a lot, it really helped.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad to hear it – thanks Daniel!

  8. MM says:

    THE NUN was an incredible horror script written by Dauberman! You can tell how his writing evolved to another level in it. Can’t wait to see the movie

  9. Charles Ofuyo says:

    Hello can I shoot using scream script please its really amazing

  10. Tanishk Nigam says:

    you are great buddy

  11. Tanishk Nigam says:

    If you don’t mind can i talk to you personally related to some script work.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Sure thing – feel free to email us at hello[at]scriptreaderpro[dot]com

  12. Denz Lowhot says:

    I am really so grateful for what you are doing. I know I will to a level my surrounding would never imagine I would because of what this website is adding on to my resources and abilities. Thanks a zillion SRP.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Denz!

  13. Denz Lowhot says:

    I intended to say I know I will GET to a level …

  14. Crit killen says:

    Thank you for these script! I teach screenwriting at UtahValley University and this will greatly help as examples!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad we could help!

  15. Yannick says:

    why can’t I download the script on my phone, even if I download them, it won’t open.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      If you download to a laptop/desktop it will work.

  16. Omar says:

    This was a lot of fun to read!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Omar!

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